Toronto FC Roster Decisions: Midfielders

This is the third of four posts I’ll be releasing breaking down Toronto FC’s roster as the club heads into one of the most critical offseasons in recent memory.

The goalkeepers and defenders sections have already been released, along with an explanation of the point and rules of these articles, so make sure to check that out if you haven’t already. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the midfielders.

Jul 3, 2021; Washington, DC, USA; Toronto FC midfielder Michael Bradley (4) walks off the pitch after Toronto FC’s game against D.C. United at Audi Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Bradley: The captain, simple as that. While Bradley’s slowed down in recent years and isn’t the player he once was, he’s still the leader of this team. The money he’s making isn’t very good, but it’s manageable and you can’t risk losing the arguably most important person in that dressing room, especially after this season. Add on the fact his dad is now the head coach and sporting director and it puts you in a situation where you basically have no choice on the matter.

Final decision: Keep.

Toronto FC has some hard transfer decisions to make before the 2022 MLS kickoff

Ralph Priso: The season-ending injury and subsequent surgery hurt him and his development a lot. Having said that, he’s only 19 and has already shown a ton of promise. He’s a great depth/bench option and has shown that he can play regular MLS minutes. It’ll be important to keep him around the best medical staff TFC have so that he can get as healthy as possible, which likely means sticking with the big club. However, there is a world where he gets regular starting minutes with TFCII to get back up to speed and keep getting regular minutes, so I wouldn’t rule out some sort of loan to the second team.

Final decision: Keep.

Nov 3, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Pacific FC midfleider Jamar Dixon (22) tries to take the ball off Toronto FC midfielder Noble Okello (14) in the first half of a the Canadian Championship semi-final at BMO Field. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Noble Okello: Okello is in a similar boat to Priso, in that he showed some promise at points this season, but he’s young and getting him minutes is going to be very important. While he’s a great depth option in the midfield, and his height is a major asset, I’m not sure keeping him around next season is the best decision.

I think a similar route to Romeo and Singh could benefit him via either a loan to the CPL or regular starter minutes in the USL. Keep him close to home in the event that he has an explosive offseason or you desperately need reinforcements, and so that he can be influenced by Bob Bradley. The most important thing for him though is to get minutes.

Final decision: Loan/TFCII.

Liam Fraser: You forgot about him, didn’t you? Fraser spent the majority of last season with the Columbus Crew getting a decent amount of minutes due to the myriad of injuries Columbus suffered in their midfield. He’s a reliable, still fairly young, cheap option for TFC and I’d like to see him back with TFC next season.

Whether or not Fraser sees his future here or with another team, remains to be seen, but having him as an option off the bench in the event of an injury to one of the central midfielders would be a huge benefit. He’s out of contract at the end of the year, so it’s going to be his decision, but I’d do my best to keep him.

Final decision: Keep.

Mark Delgado: Speaking of central midfielders, Delgado had a tough season this year. He was played all over the place and, at least to my eyes, was never given an actual role. He’s a very good player, $581 250 salary shows that, but he needs a defined role in order to succeed. He’s still in his prime at 26 and is an absolute workhorse. He’s a regular MLS player, even if he does seriously struggle at times.

Final decision: Keep.

Nov 7, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto FC midfielder Jonathan Osorio ( 21) applauds supporters after a 3-1 defeat to DC United at BMO Field. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Jonathon Osorio: A reliable midfielder who gives you so much both on and off the pitch, Osorio had a bit of a tough year this year, as with everyone on the team. A high earner, he makes $876 250 in guaranteed compensation, he is a midfielder who you can rely on to distribute the ball and fill in well when your DPs are injured (more on one of them shortly).

He’s been with the club for so long, it’d be pretty foolish to sell him after one less than stellar season. If he wants to try to pursue an opportunity somewhere else, you don’t really have a choice but to abide by his request. He does have a player option (which was picked up) so barring an incredible offer I’d keep him around.

Final decision: Keep.

Tsubasa Endoh: Another player who had his season ended early due to injury, Endoh is a tough player to evaluate. On the one hand, he’s looked pretty good in limited minutes, but he’s 28 and takes up an international roster spot, so are his limited minutes really worth taking up one of those coveted spots? I think he’s been a loyal player for TFC, but it might be time to cut bait. The low salary is great, but I think the international roster spot could be better used by another player. He’s out of contract, so it’s easy to part ways, and now’s as good a time as ever.

Final Decision: Move on.

Erickson Gallardo: This was an experiment that failed miserably. Gallardo came into the team as an unknown and remained that. Injuries hurt him quite a lot and, in general, TFC just wasn’t a great fit. His monstrous salary ($331 913) for someone who quite literally doesn’t play at this point is almost as bad as the Omar contract. He’s out of contract, so this is a pretty simple decision for the team to make and, honestly, is probably better for both sides.

Final decision: Move On.

Nick DeLeon: It’s tough to judge DeLeon without the obvious being a major factor. As someone who’s openly anti-vaccine, he wasn’t a huge asset due to the potential issues around him travelling and playing, but even despite all those issues being resolved he didn’t factor in much. It is worth noting that his versatility is helpful, and he’s shown flashes of serious talent, unfortunately, however, he also has a lot of negative traits.

For one, as a guy who doesn’t like shots, he sure takes a lot of them, and he really hasn’t shown that he and his personal decision should be with the team for much longer, in my opinion. Add on his age (31) and I can’t personally justify keeping him around. He’s also about to be out of contract, so it is very easy to move on from him.

Final decision: Sell/Move On.

TORONTO, ON – AUGUST 21: Alejandro Pozuelo #10 of Toronto FC dribbles the ball during an MLS game against Vancouver Whitecaps FC at BMO Field on August 21, 2020 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Alejandro Pozuelo: This one is probably going to get a reaction. Pozuelo, to put it bluntly, wasn’t good this year. He barely played due to injuries, but even when he did he wasn’t very effective. He looked kind of lost. Some of that may be due to the struggle of the pandemic and personal things he was going through, but it was not a good sign. He’s also not getting any younger at 30-years-old and is going to need a contract extension next year.

Having said all that, he was the MLS MVP last season and has shown he can be an incredibly talented player. So, it took me a while to decide on what I thought the best course of action would be for him. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense to me to see if you could move him for some sort of profit. He’s an incredible player, but there are just too many things not going in his favour at TFC that I can’t really justify definitively saying they should keep him, which is why I’m bending the rules a bit.

Depending on if you get any offers for him or he hasn’t shown an interest in staying, I’d say you should try to move him, but, if neither of those things happens, I think you keep him around. You need to sell tickets and Pozuelo will do that for you. Hopefully, with a bit more certainty and a better team environment, he gets back to the player he once was, but things need to go right if that’s going to happen.

Final decision: Keep or Sell.

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